Tuesday, June 22, 2010

P&H Cetus LV test and long term review

About the test: paddling conditions and paddlers.Having paddled and enjoyed the P&H Cetus for over a year now I was really looking forward to paddling its lower volume sibling, the Cetus LV. This test took place during the period May 2009 till March 2010. It is based on paddling it for over 330km in a wide variety of waters off the west coast of Scotland: the Solway, the North Channel, the Clyde, the Firth of Lorn, Loch Creran, Skye and finally round the Mull of Oa on Islay. It has been tested in winds from force 0 to 7 and in flat water, wind blown chop, tide races moving at 15km/hour and in surf on exposed Atlantic beaches. It has also been paddled by three other paddlers weighing from 60 to 92kg.

It was paddled alongside a Cetus, two Alaw Bachs, Nordkapp LV and several Quests.

Manufacturer’s summary

“If you are a smaller or lighter paddler then you really require a sea kayak that has been designed with your stature in mind. With the Cetus LV we began hand-shaping a body that would ensure you have the same experience with full control of the boat out there on the water as everybody else. The Cetus LV is a sleek and elegant performer that really utilises the available space to balance the volume creating a highly manoeuvrable and versatile British sea kayak.”


This is a low, sleek kayak of a similar overall form to the Cetus and like it, the Cetus LV is of swede form, with the wide point behind the cockpit. The rear of the hull forms a drawn out inbuilt skeg. This gives a long waterline length for speed when the boat is upright but disengages from the water for manoeuvrability when the kayak is edged. Moving forward, a wide, flattish bottom with a slight V at the keel under the cockpit runs into a rounder section towards the bow, with no hard chines between the sides and the bottom.

Construction, finish, fittings and ergonomics
I have used five separate 2009/2010 P&H Cetus/LV kayaks and all, including this one, have shown a superb quality of finish in respect of lamination and assembly of the hull, deck and bulkheads. The GRP bulkheads are fitted with a rubber bung with a relief valve to prevent implosion/explosion of hatch covers in extreme temperature conditions. There were no faults in the fitting of components and accessories. The Cetus LV on test was very smart with a white hull, yellow deck and orange seam and cockpit rim.

The long keyhole cockpit makes this one of the easiest kayaks to get in and out of, especially if you suffer from hip or knee problems. For 2010 P&H are now fitting the plastic seat lower in the cockpit and this allowed me at 92kg to fit snugly without removing the padded seat cover, (which I previously had to do in May 2009). For those that like to paddle without a seat cover, the seat base is comfortable and supportive with just the right amount of rise at the front. The seat back was supportive, not too high for layback rolls and resistant to folding forward under your bum during wet re-entries. Its tension adjusts effectively using a belt and two corrosion resistant D buckles. Smaller paddlers should stick some foam hip pads to the sides of the seat to ensure good contact for edge control. The thigh braces were not so aggressive and supportive as the Alaw Bach’s but were more pronounced than a Nordkapp LV’s. They allowed a comfortable range of thigh positions from relaxed cruising to full “brace in a tide race” mode! They come fitted with a 3mm layer of closed cell foam.

The footrests fitted to this particular kayak were the long serving Yakima models with alloy tracks and small plastic pedals. Several paddlers paddling the Cetus LV back to back with the Alaw Bach commented that the pedals felt less comfortable than the Rockpool’s footplate. However, the Cetus LV normally comes supplied with P&H’s own adjustable footrests that have exceptionally large and comfortable pedals. They slide on twist/lock “paddles” which come back to just behind your knees. A 90 degree twist (while you are still seated) allows the footrest to be slid forward or back with the paddles for a perfect fit. They remained firmly in place in all four kayaks I tried with them despite many rolls and wet exits.

I paddle in size 10 boots and despite the kayak’s low profile; there was enough room for daylong comfort. The pod of the fore deck hatch is shorter than on the full size Cetus and that allowed my toes more room, as they extended beyond the pod and could be swung into the midline for a change of position. The fore deck hatch is so very convenient for such things as small flares, sun tan oil, head torch, energy bars etc.

End toggles (secured by elastics), deck lines and elastics, compass recess and security/tow line bar were of the usual high P&H standard fitting and function. Behind the cockpit there is a transverse recess designed to take a paddle shaft while launching and landing. Personally, I like to keep my nice carbon fibre paddles well out of the way of my bum. However, there is no doubt that the moulding adds to deck rigidity and I do like to sit on the rear deck while getting my legs in and out of the cockpit. A large rubber oval rear deck hatch was partnered by a smaller round one towards the bow.

The day hatch and fore hatch were lighter covers with plastic centres. All covers were tethered. Tent poles need to be removed from a tent bag to bend it through the round forward hatch.

In five P&H Cetus and Cetus LV kayaks I tried, all compartments remained dry, despite some extended wet work. In terms of carrying capacity, the Cetus LV is significantly smaller than the Alaw Bach, which is in turn smaller than the Nordkapp LV. Extended expedition space will be at a premium in this kayak but with a lightweight tent and compact down sleeping bag, there should be no problem for week long trips. The relatively narrow bow together with the shape of the foredeck means it is easy to get the paddle entry well forward and close to the hull for efficient paddling. The decals are quality items and not cheap transfers. They are 3D items and I particularly liked the bow logo, which looks like an eye.

The new P&H skeg system has run into development problems in some 2009 kayaks. It is an ingenious skeg slider with a ratchet that pulls the skeg up, and holds it up, against a shock cord that pulls the skeg down. When it works, the system results in an extremely light and effective skeg control and it does not have the risk of kinking a wire cable as in many other systems. Over the last year, I have paddled five P&H kayaks with this system. Two worked perfectly, one was a bit stiff and two became so stiff that the skegs were unusable. P&H have recognised the problem and have put a great deal of effort into developing components of the system to find a solution and to supporting those customers who were affected. The P&H website has a skeg system help link from its homepage. This link will guide you through a couple of self diagnostic tests before giving you contact details. I tried following this and was contacted by P&H the same day. A day later I found myself talking to their chief development engineer and also the boss of the parent company, Pyranha. I am impressed by how P&H are committed to supporting their affected customers and I would have every confidence in buying a further P&H kayak. The most recent (2010) P&H kayaks I have seen have skeg which works faultlessly. The skeg blade is a high aspect design, which is rather flexible.


Having been surprised by the manoeuvrability of the full size Cetus on edge, I was expecting a great deal from the Cetus LV. However, I found that with my 92 kg weight, it was not much more manoeuvrable than the Cetus. Investigating this, I found that when I edge the Cetus LV, the long built in skeg does not disengage, and shorten waterline length as happens on the Cetus.

Lighter paddlers of the Cetus LV experience greater manoeuvrability, because the skeg disengages. The Cetus LV is really for smaller paddlers who want a decent fit and handling, rather than for big paddlers, wanting more manoeuvrability. What P&H have done with the Cetus/LV/MV is to create a series of boats that allow people of different weights to experience the same handling characteristics, as long as they choose the appropriate kayak for their size. You should make sure that when you demo a Cetus/LV/MV, you choose the size that allows the waterline to shorten as you edge. A satisfying gurgle from the stern during an edged turn should be a clue that you are in the right kayak.

Threading through rock gardens on the Mull of Logan and the Mull of Oa, the Cetus LV proved at least as manoeuvrable as the Alaw Bach with heavier paddlers and with a lightweight paddler, was probably more manoeuvrable. It was also more manoeuvrable than the Nordkapp LV.

My experience of the Cetus LV will be what a light paddler might experience when loaded for an expedition, albeit I will have lighter ends! Lighter paddlers thought the stability at rest was superb though I found its primary stability to be less than the Cetus, a little less than the Alaw Bach and more than the Nordkapp LV. It is superbly stable on edge and Jim, an experienced paddler, commented that he couldn’t think of a finer kayak to learn about edge control and turning. My daughter’s first day in the Cetus LV included a nonstop, 24km winter night crossing of the mouth of the Firth of Lorn, from Loch Buie in Mull to Seil. There was a force 4 wind from 45 degrees to the bow, with an adverse 1 knot tide. We couldn’t see the waves, we could only feel and taste them! Her comment was that the Cetus LV behaved so well that it inspired great confidence during this challenging crossing.

Having such a low profile means that this is a wetter boat than the Alaw Bach or the Nordkapp LV. However, the trade off is that in force 6-7 winds, the Cetus LV is able to be turned, bow through the wind, more easily than the Alaw Bach. The kayak can be used without a skeg, as it is so responsive to edging. However, on a long crossing, I much prefer to use the skeg. On the model on test, the skeg was too stiff for my daughter to operate. I found the Cetus LV skeg more sensitive to small adjustments than that of the Cetus. The Cetus skeg has an “on or off” feel, so we were not able to finely titrate the amount of skeg to the wind strength and direction as the paddlers in Quests were doing.

Tony, who is an Alaw Bach paddler, commented that the Cetus LV accelerated faster and had a higher top speed than the Alaw Bach, which tended to dig its stern into the water, increasing drag as it approached its top speed. In small to medium following seas, the Alaw Bach picked the waves up with much less paddler input than the Cetus LV. However, the acceleration of the Cetus LV helped a determined kayaker catch even the most unpromising swell. Once on the swell, the Cetus LV was steerable by edging, especially if you stayed well up on the wave. It was much less likely to broach than the full sized Cetus but was more likely to broach than either the Alaw Bach or Nordkapp LV. The broaching could be controlled by deploying the skeg, except in steep following seas. It was effective until a certain point and I wonder if the skeg’s flexibility contributed to the stern suddenly giving way.

We did not test the Cetus LV on full sized surf landings but it proved very easy to control when landing in 3’ surf on the west of Islay. Ultimately, like all sea kayaks in surf, it broached but was very stable when braced in the broached position. It was also very controllable through the surf zone on the approach. A great deal of this controllability was due to its quick acceleration, allowing you to slow down, let a big, threatening swell through, then accelerate for a more manageable wave, to carry you into the shore.

Just looking at its fine bow sections, we all felt there was a risk that the Cetus LV might be at risk of pearling in steep following seas. However, there is a distinct upward curve in the sheer line from the front hatch forward. On test, pearling was not a problem, even in a tide race with a 92kg paddler and steep 1m waves. The bow of the Alaw Bach was more buoyant in these conditions but this kayak tended to slam more when the bow dropped into a trough. The Cetus LV also stays remarkably flat when paddling into waves. The Alaw Bach and Nordkapp LV threw their bows higher and the Quest tended to dip its bow lower. Overall, the Cetus LV inspired confidence, giving a very smooth passage through difficult, rough water conditions.

We gave the Cetus LV a good test in spring tidal conditions on the Solway, the Mull of Logan in the North Channel and the Mull of Oa on Islay. Not only did the Cetus LV handle the unpredictable waves in the races in a secure manner but it seemed to be remarkably unaffected when crossing sharp eddy lines. Due to the conditions and lack of landing opportunities it was not possible to swap kayaks over and paddle the same sections in different kayaks. However, all who paddled the Cetus LV felt its performance in tide races and eddy lines matched and probably exceeded the best of the other kayaks.

The Cetus LV proved easy to both roll, and to renter and roll. For an all round kayak, its relatively low back rest and rear deck made lay back rolls easy (though this is not a Greenland style roller!) Once up, it tended to settle upright unlike the Nordkapp LV, which usually required a quick brace to stop it going over on the other side again.

DimensionsStandard construction, weight: 24.4kg (the test kayak did not have the optional keel strip fitted), length: 531cm, breadth: 53cm, cockpit length: 80cm, breadth: 41.5cm, height at front: 29.5cm, rear of seat base to front of cockpit: 69cm. Price £2149.

After a thorough test, in a variety of challenging Scottish conditions, we found that the P&H Cetus LV is another significant step forward for British form sea kayaks. It is part of an outstanding family of boats that allow paddlers (of a wide range of sizes and abilities) to experience a versatile kayak that is stable, fast, manoeuvrable, comfortable and well built. The beauty of the Cetus family is that this performance applies to both loaded and unloaded use. I, like many of my enthusiastic sea kayaking friends, have ended up buying two kayaks; one for expeditions and one for day use. With the introduction of the Cetus family, this is now looking like an unnecessary luxury. Some 2009 kayaks have developed skeg problems but the way that P&H have responded and are supporting affected customers must give a great deal of confidence to potential buyers. One of the four main testers in this report has now bought a full size Cetus and another is considering the Cetus LV. Another would like to buy the Cetus LV, if she had enough money!


  1. Douglas, Thanks for your excellent review. I noted your comments on the rather 'flexy' skeg. I was under the impression that P&H was putting a stiffer skeg in all the Cetus model boats after a number of negative user comments specific to the full sized Cetus last year (this was discussed on the www.paddling.net message boards).
    That does not seem to be the case according to your experience?

  2. Doug thanks for this detailed review, I had been thinking of a Tiderace Excite but now I see I have another kayak to demo! I am 152lbs, do you think I would be too heavy for an LV with camping gear for a weekend?


  3. Douglas, thank you for your helpful email yesterday. I too would like to say thank you for the time and effort that you put into the reviews both here and in Ocean Paddler. BTW, I am assuming you did not do the Rockpool GT review in this month's Ocean Paddler! I do not think it even mentioned how it paddled!! Keep up the good work.

    Johnny :)

  4. Hello Joe, yes I had heard rumours about a stiffer skeg on 2010 models. I only like to put up a test after haveing paddled a kayak for some time. The Cetus LV I used was manufactured around October 2009.

    Hello Steve, thank you. The Excite is a really nice kayak (I have a similar Rockpool Alaw Bach) and it is a bit bigger than the Cetus LV so will be easier to pack. At the time I paddled the Cetus LV I was 210lbs so you will have no problem carrying 58 lbs of gear! You will probably need to invest in a fairly compact sleeping bag and tent but you should not have any problem with weekend camping.

    John, delighted to help and thank you! No I didn't do the Rockpool GT test. The last Rockpool test I did for OP was the Menai 18 expedition kayak. The OP testers are supposed to be anonymous but I always mention where the test took place and as far as I know I am the only Scottish OP tester!!

  5. Very helpful test on what sounds like a great sea kayak. Thanks.

  6. John F - U.S.A.25/06/2010, 03:41

    I received my Cetus LV in February. After delivery, I asked P&H (in the U.S.A.) about development plans for a stiffer skeg, and was told "no, not planned".

    This has turned out to be a great, but of course not perfect, boat. It's fast, maneuverable, and surfs great - any pearling tendencies are manageable. One downside: the boat seems to threaten, but never actually become, difficult to manage in rear quartering wind and waves. I would love to try a stiffer skeg, but still haven't decided if this would actually be necessary.

  7. Thank you Anon.

    John F thank you for your very helpful comments.

    I know what you mean about that feeling in rear quartering wind and waves. I think it is more a reflection of the kayaks manoeuvrability, as waves change its waterline, you get steering effects, just like you were edging. After I had paddled the Cetus and Cetus LV for an extended time, I became very much less aware of this and I suspect I had learned to compensate both by counter edging and modifying my stroke.

    I do not think a stiffer skeg would help in these situations. Where I thought the flexibility of the skeg might contribute to a performance issue was in very steep following seas that you might find in shallower water e.g. if crossing a sand bar between two islands.

    One day in such conditions neither a Quest nor an NDK Explorer broached when the Cetus LV did but I am more than willing to put up with an occasional broach given the Cetus LV's exceptional manoeuvrability. The Explorer was not designed to thread rock gardens!

  8. To John F,
    Thanks for you comments on the Cetus LV skeg. I had asked the same question on several venues in regard to the stiffness of the skegs on the 2010 Cetus models. No one from P&H has yet replied.

  9. Hello Douglas, Joe G and John F. I took delivery of a 2010 Cetus LV after reading Douglas's Cetus review and taking a test paddle in an LV. I am delighted with it and agree with all the points Douglas has raised in his review. with regard to the skeg, my adjustment works perfectly, though the demo boat's did not. Also the skeg is very floppy and flexible, though I have not noticed any effect on the way the boat handles in small waves and winds up to F3/4.

    I think it is a great kayak and a great replacement for my very battered and much too big NDK Explorer.


  10. Hello Lucy thanks for your comments, I hope you enjoy your new kayak for many years to come. :o)

  11. Hello Lucy, thanks for your input and congratulations on your new boat. Like you, I find the cockpit on the NDK Explorer to be a bit large on me. I have put about four days of test paddling in on a Cetus LV demo boat. I don't have anywhere near the time Douglas has spent with the kayak, but I certainly liked it enough that I have one on hold at my regional P&H dealer. It is the most maneuverable 17+ foot boat I have ever been in. I have not yet had an opportunity to paddle it in larger following seas, so hopefully I have not 'jumped the gun'.

  12. Hello Joe, you will love it. We had force 4 winds and some reasonable sized seas crossing over to some islands over the weekend. It was the most testing conditions I had been out in in the Cetus LV. With rear quartering winds and waves, I found the kayak very maneuverable, with a tendency to want to turn into the wind without the skeg. With the skeg it ran very straight. It never broached. I didn't feel that the skeg flexibility had any effect on its ability to keep tracking in those conditions.

    The more time I have spent in the Cetus LV the more I have enjoyed it and appreciated Douglas's review. My one problem is that my husband now wants to take turns in MY Cetus LV! I am sure you will have a great time with your Cetus LV when it arrives, I hope it is soon.

  13. Thank you for the update Lucy, I am glad you like the Cetus LV and your husband will just need to get his own!

  14. Hi Douglas, I had one experience during my four day demo of the Cetus LV that was substantially different than yours. That was in regard to the P&H bandband staying put upon re-entries. Simply put, it did not. The backband kept folding under me every time I did a deepwater re-entry. I eventually just tore it out and paddled without it. Heck, I am not that big at 150 pounds, so I am not sure why I had this problem. Yes, I did try tightening and loosening the backband. Thanks.

  15. I immediately removed the backband and replaced it with a curved pillar of minicell foam. This is just my personal preference. (I left the backband in my wife's P&H boat.) It usally takes a couple of hours to tweak the shape of the pillar, then everything is great. I have just enough support, increased flexibility for torso rotation, and no worries about folding under.

  16. Joe, the demo kayak I tried in Skye in May 2009 did the same but the one I had on long term loan did not. I imagine that repeated wet entries(especially in a demo kayak) soften the plastic tab that supports the backrest.

    I tend to do what John F suggest, use a block of shaved minicell foam. In my daughter's Quest LV, I replaced the standard backrest with one with straps top and bottom which go back to the bulkhead.

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  18. Update: well, I pulled the trigger and purchased a Cetus LV a little over a month ago. I have only had a chance to get out in this kayak once and I am already having a bit of buyer's regret. The Cetus LV replaced my 4 year-old Valley Aquanaut LV. I never could find much wrong with the 'naut LV. It is a confidence inspiring boat in lumpy seas and the operation of its skeg never gave me any concerns.

    Right out-of-the-box the Cetus LV had a small problem with its skeg, which has now developed into a much larger issue. Once I got my new boat home I found that the stopper or chock for anchoring the bungee was broken. Yeah, not big deal. P&H immediately sent me a new stopper along with a much reduced diameter bungee cord. The new cord is about half the diameter of the original. As Douglas mentions elsewhere in his blog this aids in reducing friction in the P&H skeg system. I installed the new stopper and smaller bungee using the provided zip-ties. The zip-ties aid in holding the bungee on the skeg wheel. The skeg wheel pivots around two opposing red plastic hex nuts which allow the blade to deploy and retract. The hex nuts hold the entire skeg assembly in the skeg box.

    Well, once I reinstalled the skeg assembly I found that it does not fit square in the skeg box of my boat. The entire assembly is canted to one side. Due to this canting the supplied zip-ties and the wheel often drag along the inside surface of the skeg recess. This causes the blade to hang on deployment about 30-40% of the time. Apparently one of the red hex nuts on my kayak was ground down excessively at the factory. It is easy to see that one of the hex nuts is twice as thick as the other. This shims the skeg assembly to one side of the skeg box. Since the hex nuts cannot be removed without damage (they are heat welded together) there is no good field repair for this. To their credit P&H is having a new skeg assembly built at the factory in the UK and shipped to the US distributor.

    This is been a bit frustrating and I am now beginning to wonder if P&H will even get this 'new' skeg system (first introduced in 2007) to operate as designed. Since purchasing my Cetus LV I have confirmed that P&H is now offering the old-style standard steel cable operated skeg as a factory installed option on all Cetus models. If I had only known at the time.

  19. Hello Joe, I am really sorry to hear of your trouble. I am surprised as friends in the UK have recently bought Cetus/Cetus LV kayaks this year and have had no problems with that skeg design.

    With regard to the red plastic axle for the skeg, the tack weld that holds the two halves together can be easily broken by twisting the two hex nuts. This allows you to unscrew them slightly, on the model I had, they were still stiff and did not need welded. You could try this until the new skeg arrives.

    With regard to the Aquanaut LV, which is as you say a truly great and confidence inspring kayak, I think that you will find that having paddled it for 4 years you will find the Cetus LV is much more responsive and will really help you develop your kayaking skills, albeit requiring a little more paddler input! I say this based on my paddling of the Aquanaut and Cetus. At my heavier weight these will be like the LV versions are to you. At my level of experience, I much prefer paddling the Cetus.

    My own kayak is a Nordkapp LV which I bought after an extended loan of both an Aquanaut and a Nordkapp LV at the same time. Yes the Aquanaut was much more forgiving but it really wasn't as much fun! If the Cetus had been available when I bought my Nordkapp LV.....?

    I do hope to hear that the new skeg assembly solves your problem. P&H are very good at making sure problems are resolved to the customer's satisfaction. If there continues to be any difficulty do get back to them.


  20. Douglas, Thanks for the positive comments. I know what you are saying in regard to the handling differences between the respective families of kayaks (Aquanauts vs the Ceti clan). That is the primary reason I chose to move to the Cetus LV. It is more responsive and 'fun' boat to paddle than the Aquanaut LV. I am sure I do not have your skill set, but I do have some abilities and the Cetus LV is well within my range. My greater concern is the skeg. The Aquanaut LV really did not require much if any skeg, even in beam or quartering seas. In those conditions I find the Cetus LV a bit more skeg dependent if you want to keep it on course without an abundance of corrective strokes. Initially I really liked the idea of P&H's new skeg system. Apparently it is nearly impossible to damage, but currently I have to worry if the darn thing is going to deploy correctly. I will keep you posted.

  21. Hello All! I realize I am a bit late in this topic, but I will give this a try. I am interested in the Cetus LV. I own a Nordkapp 18 and it's almost too big for me. I also have a Romany 16 and it's about perfect. Now I am looking for a boat a little in between. I am 175-180 lbs, 5'8". I could not fit in the Explorer LV and skull or play as well as the Romany, but I hear the Cetus LV is a little bigger than the Explorer LV. I just need a little more space than the Explorer LV and it would be perfect. Any comments or ideas?
    Relies? photopixels@earthlink.net

  22. Hello Anon, from my own experience of paddling a Romany and a Cetus LV, I think you will find the Cetus LV a bit close in size to the Romany, though faster. At your weight the Cetus LV will sit too low in the water, even without camping gear. This will make it less manoeuvrable. I would suggest the Cetus MV would be perfect or what about a Nordkapp LV?


  23. Hi Anon, I believe you posted a similar inquiry on www.paddling.net. I will echo Doug's comments and repeat my own on pnet. As a Cetus LV owner (tvcrider), I believe the Cetus MV will be a better fit for you.

    I have paddled the Nordkapp LV and
    Doug's suggestion that also consider it is a good one for someone your size. The Nordy LV is a bit 'big' on me. It also handles differently than either the Cetus LV or my previous kayak, a Valley Aquanaut LV. It was not to my liking, but that is why there are wealth of different boats out there. "Give them a try, before you buy!"

  24. Thanks for adding your experience Joe.


  25. Hello all.
    I recently purchased a Cetus LV. I tested other boats which I liked and decided on this boat. I am 170 pounds with some holiday peaks at 180, but I try to hold back. The boat fits very well. Most people say the boat is too small for me. After reading this review, I realized the Doud is just over 200 pounds and he liked the boat. Not sure this boat should be labeled as a LV and share the LV label with teh Explorer and the Romany LV series. Having said that, should I carry most of the load on the front or back or should I just distribute evenly?

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  27. I received the new skeg assembly kit from P&H yesterday. I have not yet installed it, but I thought you might be interested in some of the subtle changes over the originally unit:
    - Factory installed pull-down cord to allow a partner to manually deploy your skeg blade. I had installed my own on the original.
    - The diameter of bungee cord that deploys the blade has been substantially reduced, apparently to reduce friction in the system.
    - Factory installed zip-ties aid in holding the bungee in place on the skeg wheel. My original skeg did not have these zip-ties, but a set was supplied by P&H USA in an effort to correct deployment issues. Due to the canting of skeg blade the zip-ties placed on the original assembly just induced more friction into the system.
    - The male and female halves of the red hex nut can be completely unscrewed and removed from the skeg wheel/blade. On the original they were heat-sealed together and would not fully come apart. The original red hex nut unit had also been heavily ground down and rounded-off at the factory. No grinding or rounding was required to fit the new unit into the skeg recess.
    - The new unit was provided to two large nylon washers. Apparently one washer could be put instead each half to the red hex nut before screwed together, but if I do that the new unit becomes to wide to fit into the skeg recess of my kayak.

  28. Hello Anon, given your weight, your gear will be a smaller proportion of total load than for a light person. It will be less critical how you load it than for a light person but you should distribute evenly if possible.

    When paddling the full size Cetus fully loaded on camping trips, I found the kayak behaved better downwind and down swell if loaded with more weight in the back than I was used to with my Quest.

    It would be worth experimenting! Enjoy your new kayak!


  29. Hello Joe, how are you getting on with your new skeg? On the 5 cetus/LVs I played with none had the washer's you describe so maybe they are only supplied for use in case the skeg box moulding is a little too wide. I do hope you are getting good use out of your Cetus LV now!


  30. Hi Douglas, Thanks for your inquiry.
    Initially I was going to wait until I had some good news to report to your readers, but currently there is no joy here in Upstate, NY. Temperatures have been a bit on the cool side locally and I have to work on the kayak outdoors. That's not great for my arthritic hands, so I wait for warmer days. We had a small break in our weather last week, so gave the installation of the new skeg assembly a try. Installing a new P&H skeg also requires replacing the Blue Dyneema skeg cord. P&H USA suggested simply tying the new cord to the old at the skeg box and pulling it though. That did not work. The joining knot would jam at the entrance to the skeg tube. I found, however, that I could thread the Dyneema cord by hand.
    Tip: thread the the replacement Dyneema cord by starting at the slider control end. It is much easier to do that way!

    P&H USA's major concern was the fit of the new skeg assembly into the skeg recess of my kayak. Apparently the width of the skeg recess can vary a bit. The skeg assembly fit just fine, however, the bungee cord kept sliding off the wheel portion of the skeg assembly, even with the factory installed zip-ties (2). When this happens the skeg jams solidly in the skeg box and will not deploy. The new skeg was jamming with every deployment! It took me a while to figure it out. I eventually put the original skeg and replacement side-by-side. Overall both assemblies measure roughly the same width. On the original unit the P&H factory ground down the red hex nut to adjust for fit into the skeg recess. On the new skeg assembly they did not touch the red hex nut (which is fine by me), but they did grind down both sides of the spoked skeg wheel. The factory guys reduced the 'shoulder' of the wheel by so much, particularly on one side, that the bungee will not stay put when the wheel rotates (skeg retracts/deploys).

    I reported my finding to P&H USA. Their suggestion is for me to add more zip-ties to aid in anchoring the bungee to the skeg wheel. I had to wait for P&H to send some, because I didn't have a readily available source for these small zip-ties. The zip-ties just arrived by Post and I hope to finish up tomorrow when we are supposed to receive some milder temperatures again.

    BTW, You are correct on the washers. P&H indicated that the two nylon washers they supplied are not needed on the Cetus LV, but are required on some of their kayaks that have a wider skeg box.

  31. Thanks for the update Joe I hope it fixes things. I also used extra (small) cable ties with some success.


  32. Hi Douglas and fellow Cetus LV fans,
    I thought I would close-out my skeg problem report. It has now been about a year since I finally installed the replacement skeg from P&H (11/2010), and I have not had any deployment issues since then.

    I have been very pleased with the Cetus LV. However if I was to do it again, I would probably order the kayak with a custom placed forward bulkhead and toss the adjustable footpegs. I had this option on my Valley Aquanaut LV, and I do miss the reduced cockpit volume and comfort of multiple foot positions. Yes, there is a trade-off. You can only share the kayak with people that have a similar inseam to your own, and it may impact resale.

    Skeg Control Tip: I have found it beneficial to occasionally put a little dab of lithium grease on the stainless steel skeg slider rod.

  33. Thanks for this update Joe. I have a Delphin with the same skeg type as you and have found it to work well except if I move the skeg slider back quickly. For some reason if I do this the skeg stays partially up, if I do it slowly then it works perfectly. Glad you like the Cetus LV. I have just taken delivery of an MV with the custom bulkhead!


  34. How will you compare the Cetus LV with the Quest LV?

    I currently have a Riot Brittany, a NDK Romany and a P&H Quest LV. My son loves the Romany, and my wife enjoys the Quest LV, so I have to paddle a Riot Brittany (which is a OK boat, but not great).
    I am planning to sell the Brittany and get a new fiberglass boat, but can't decide what boat to purchase.

  35. Hello Oyvind, I think it would be a mistake to buy two kayaks the same. We also have three in our family all different. First of the Cetus LV is much smaller than the Quest LV. I paddled my Quest LV alongside the full size Cetus and found them to be about the same size. Much as I like the Quest LV, I think the Cetus is more versatile, more manoeuvrable and more stable at rest. I think you should try all three Cetus models and see what fits you best. I am 5'8" and 14.5 stone and I find the Cetus MV makes an ideal compromise between day use and expedition use.

    People come in all shapes and sizes so it is worth trying other makes as well. The Romany is a great manoeuvrable kayak but I preferred the Quest to the Explorer. Valley have the excellent Etain in a variety of sizes and Rockpool and Tiderace have some great designs.

    Have fun choosing and paddling your new kayak.


  36. Hello Douglas and thanks for this in-depth review. I'd love to find a P&H Cetus to test but wonder which I should aim for given my size. I'm 5'11 and 165lb/74.8kg. Will I be too light for the MV, for unloaded day use? It sounds like the MV would be better suited for touring, as regards to storage.

    What do you think?

    1. Hello Gene, my friend Tony is about your size. He tried both the Cetus LV and the HV. He went for the HV (the MV was not available then) and has no regrets. For you I think the MV would be ideal for both day and camping trips. The LV would make a great day Kayak.

  37. So I am really late to this party, but would appreciate advice from what seems like an authoritative Cetus LV vs MV group of paddlers commenting here. I am in Australia and far from a P&H dealer so I am heavily reliant on research and advice. I am 5'8" and 64 kg (10stone). My own research and some advice (including from the thread above) suggests that the LV would be a good fit. However I have received some advice from a paddler not too much heavier than me to consider the MV. The reasons given were that if you are not very flexible (eg tight hamstrings), the extra deck height of the MV might be more comfortable over distance by allowing a more knees up position. Also, it was suggested that the LV might sit a bit low in the water for me. I plan to use the Cetus mostly as a day boat but with the odd overnight adventure up to one week.
    I look forward to your advice.

  38. Pbeam, I'm 185cm and about 87kg and I fit fine on the MV. My wife is 52kg 163cm and find MV too big.
    I'm pretty sure that you need the LV.

  39. Hello PBEAM I am very sorry I missed your query and thank you Stelios for finding it and answering. Ideally you need to test both kayaks but a friend of mine is 70kg and 5'8" and fits fine in the LV. He has paddled the MV as well but finds it more difficult to get a comfortably firm fit. So I agree with Stelios, you will be able to paddle both but will get a better fit in the LV especially for use as a day boat in strong winds.

  40. Douglas, Thanks for your excellent review. I was wondering, which size I would fit best in. The MV or the LV. I am 177 cm and weigh 72 kg. without clothes. I plan to use the boat for day trips and the odd 3-4 days touring. I am asking, because it´s not possible for me to try the LV out here in DK
    Regards Finn

    1. Hello Finn, at 72kg you could fit either LV or MV
      but if you are not thinking of extended camping trips the LV would probably be better, BUT it is risky buying a small kayak without trying it. A tall friend who is 70kg has large feet and he could not fit his feet in the LV when wearing winter boots, He bought an MV instead and padded it out. He also got a custom bulkhead. :o)

    2. Hello. Thanks for your reply. I think I'll go for a LV. One of my friends, who are the same size and weight as me, purchased a MV, and he regrets a little that he did not choose the LV, because he feels he weighs too little for the MV. I use size 10/11 in winter boots. Hope they can fit in the kayak.

    3. I wish you great times in your new boat Finn. :o)

    4. I wish you great times in your new boat Finn. :o)

    5. Thank You for Your wishes and advice. As a matter of fact. Yesterday I went to try a MV, and bought it! It seemed to fit me well.
      Now I am looking for a Spray-skirt that fits well, and at the same time, not to difficult to operate.
      If you have an advice about that too, I will be very glad!
      Thank´s again.

  41. Robert Ashton19/10/2016, 23:33

    Hi Douglas , I really enjoy reading your revues , I have been paddle sailing the Scorpio lv mk11 and have got very comfortable with it , I am now ready to up the ante a bit and invest in a composite boat , I find the Scorpio lv a little slow , I was wondering how much of a difference there is between the speed of the Cetus and the Scorpio . I am also considering the Taran 16 . the boat will be used as a day boat with the odd overnight camping trip in moderate weather .
    Kind regards Robert

    1. Hi Robert, I have not paddled a Scorpio LV but based on my experience of paddling both the Scorpio MV mk2 MV and the Cetus MV I would say that although the Cetus MV is a little faster, you probably would not notice the difference if you were on a typical touring trip, stopping to take photos, explore nooks and crannies etc. One thing I did notice is that the Cetus LV is very weight dependent. If you are too heavy for it it becomes less manoeuverable and slower. My much lighter daughter was faster in it than I was. What weight are you? If you want more speed you have to go for a boat with a long waterline length and preferably little keel rocker. Unfortunately a lot of fast touring boats have high volume so light paddlers get blown about. However Rockpool do the Taran 16 and the Tarantella which are fast but lower volume. I have spent a lot of time in the Taran 16 and I like it a very great deal. Its fast, comfortable, relatively manoueverable, spacious and above all a lot of fun. I guess the main reason it is not my main paddling boat is that it is not as stable in rough water when not paddling as the Cetus MV and one of my main kayaking activities is photography with a non waterproof camera.The Taran 16 actually has about 40 l more volume than the Cetus MV so it is huge in comparison with the Cetus LV. Although the Taran 16 is 30cm shorter than a Cetus MV it has a longer waterline length when unloaded. The Taran 16 paddle sails great but you will need to get the foredeck reinforced and drill the stay mounts through the seam not the deck. I suggest you try paddling the Taran 16 or the Tarantella depending on your weight but maybe consider trying a Cetus MV if your weight is at the upper end of ideal for the Cetus LV. Good luck :)

  42. Robert Ashton23/10/2016, 22:00

    Hi Douglas , Thank you for your reply it has a lot of useful info , I am 73 kg and 176 cms tall and a 32 inch inside leg , I do find the low deck height of my Scorpio lv restricts my leg movement quit a bit , I also own a Dagger Stratos L , although being a shorter boat with a lot of rocker I find it is less effort to paddle and is faster , the higher deck height also allows for better leg movement . Unfortunately storage restricts my choice of boat to 17 feet , so the taran 16 is going to the top of my list for a demo .
    Kind regards

  43. Hola e estado siguiendo este foro y me parece excelente. Hace dos meses me llego mi regalon, cetus vl el cual lo configure con casco y cabina reforzada de tipo expedicion, con mis 80 kl no tengo ningun problema con equipo de campamento por cinco dias de expedicion. Solo tengo que dejar en evidencia que todos los estancos se filtra agua ya que lo pedi sin refuerzo, en cuanto al casco superior trasero (popa) es muy delgada la lamina, ya que no se podria hacer un auto rescate

  44. Saludos Hugo. Me alegro de que estés disfrutando de tu Cetus LV. Estoy de acuerdo en que en 80kg encontrará la popa un poco bajo en volumen para "cowboy" (scramble) auto rescates. Sin embargo, en el lado positivo, será genial para rodar.
    Mis mejores deseos Douglas

    Greetings Hugo. I am glad you are enjoying your Cetus LV. I agree that at 80kg you will find the stern a little low in volume for "cowboy" (scramble) self rescues. However, on the plus side, it will be great for rolling.
    Best wishes Douglas